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The Court of Appeal held last year that a consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon could pursue his claim for substantial future loss of income resulting from a breach of his employment contract, related to his employer's failure to follow its contractual disciplinary procedure
This article was originally published on 8 February 2011 and is not updated.
Since this article was published, the employer appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal.
XpertHR provides up-to-date guidance on disciplinary procedures.
The decision, in Edwards v Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust  EWCA Civ 571, enabled Mr Edwards to claim damages that are not limited to his notice period or the time it would have taken for the employer to carry out its contractual disciplinary procedure.Permission for the employer to appeal to the Supreme Court has been granted and the hearing is listed for 22 June 2011.
So what should employers do about their disciplinary procedures? Are they now at risk of high value claims from employees they dismiss if they do not follow their own disciplinary procedures?
The key factor in the Edwards case was that his employer's disciplinary procedure was contractual. As a result, when his employer failed to follow that procedure it breached its contractual obligations towards Mr Edwards, which led him to bring his claim for substantial damages as a result of the breach. Mr Edwards' claim could never have succeeded if the disciplinary procedure had not been contractual.
Contractual disciplinary procedures serve to restrict the employer's ability to deal with a disciplina